With cannabis legalization just over two weeks away in Canada, police are facing something they’ve never had to consider before- whether to allow officers to use cannabis or not.
Before, it was a foregone conclusion that cannabis use was banned and it was as easy to justify as pointing to the Controlled Substances and Drugs Act where using, possessing, and distributing cannabis was very clearly against the law (although rarely a priority for enforcement).
Now, many police services across the country are still developing their cannabis policies and so far, the Calgary Police Service is the only department to take a zero-tolerance approach and completely ban officers from using cannabis at all, not even on their days off.
Calgary police union unhappy with cannabis ban
According to the Calgary Police Service (CPS) policy obtained by CBC:
“Sworn members who are qualified to use firearms and are able to be operationally deployed are prohibited from using recreational cannabis while on or off duty.”
The Calgary Police Association said the CPS “took the easy way out” and spokesman Les Kaminski expects the ban to be challenged, saying, “If a person has five days off and smokes some cannabis on their first day off are they not fit for duty five days later? That’s what we need to get to the bottom of.”
He also said the union has been getting calls from members who’ve said, “They can’t tell me what I can or can’t do with a legal substance on my days off.”
It sounds like some authorities might have a problem with authority, eh?
Nobody likes the taste of their own medicine, least of all those in power, and when it comes to protesting unjust policies and civil disobedience, perhaps Calgary police officers who disagree with the blanket ban on cannabis use can take inspiration from the cannabis activists and users that they’ve arrested and harassed for decades!
These are strange and new times indeed because who would’ve thought you’d ever see police officers fighting for their right to use recreational cannabis?
Why is the Calgary Police Service banning cannabis?
The CPS has cited a lack of data as its main justification for the blanket ban on cannabis use, as Supt. Darren Leggatt told CBC:
“It’s hard to do research on something that’s been illegal for so long. Abstinence for sworn members is really the most logical way to start.”
Aside from the fact he’s conveniently forgetting that medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001, it’s actually kind of funny to see the Calgary Police Service using the exact same rhetoric that law enforcement has used time and time again to try and keep cannabis illegal in the first place, except in this case, it only applies to police.
Maybe this ban on police using cannabis is a step in the right direction and we should go even further, like banning police from using alcohol, too. Maybe then, and only then, would law enforcement realize how our ridiculous and arbitrary drug laws disproportionately and unfairly affect certain demographics?
Are police out of touch?
This also shows how CPS leadership is woefully out of touch- they probably believe you can get addicted off one toke!
Or maybe CPS brass are worried about other things. If more officers tried cannabis, they might begin to question all the anti-cannabis propaganda they’ve been told their entire lives and start (god forbid!) thinking for themselves. Cannabis could even be the “gateway drug” that forces officers to face their complicity in the human rights disaster known as the War On Drugs!
I believe if officers were allowed to smoke cannabis they would be less aggressive and even more empathetic to those who use drugs in general instead of being unquestioning tools of the state.
If more police tried cannabis, they would realize that it’s no worse (and it’s often much better) than alcohol, and that could make cops (both former and current) more inclined to support Cannabis Amnesty to help undo some of the harms they help perpetrate on the people.
If they truly believe in justice, that is.
Featured image courtesy of CTV News.